Apple has now released iOS 16, which is coming to your nearest iPhone. The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system was teased at Apple’s developer conference in June and has since been released as a separate developer and public beta ahead of its official launch. It’s now completely publicly available – and you’ll find the best things here if you download it.
Customization is king for 2022, with major changes to the lock screen – but there are plenty of extras that should entice photography, travel, and home automation fans. Here are the 10 great new features coming to iOS 16.
Big one, seeing how it’s going to be the first thing every time you pick up your phone. iOS 16 completely redesigns the lock screen, shifting notifications toward the bottom of the screen to leave more room for your photos.
Widgets are supported here for the first time, so you can keep the weather, calendar appointments, or the battery status of your AirPods onscreen without having to unlock the phone first. Update: With the new iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max always on display, these will still be shown even if your screen is locked.
You can choose fonts and colors for the time and date, along with some clever depth effects, allowing the subject graphics of your lock screen photo to overlap slightly. Built-in photo filters automatically change fonts as you swipe up, for a quick way to give your phone a more distinctive look. The lock screen now also works with the focus feature, which lets you set different lock screens depending on whether you’re working, traveling or sitting at home.
Apps that used to bombard you with tons of notifications (we’re looking at you, Uber Eats, and Starbucks) can now use Live Activities to put a single, automatically updated notification/widget hybrid on your lock screen. Apple says it’s perfect for sports scores, and developers are able to get started on the versions of their apps right now.
Easy message management
We assume that someone at Apple must have sent Tim Cook a text for their half – why would Apple give us an undo send button for messages? We’ve done it all, so the ability to send those embarrassing casuals with a long press of the message bubble would certainly be welcome.
You’ll also be able to edit messages after they’ve been sent in iOS 16. If you made a typo, you can fix it with an “edited” flag next to “Deliver” followed by an “Edited” flag.
Chats can now be marked as unread with a right swipe on a thread because that’s when you don’t have time to write a reply and need a reminder to come back to your contact later.
Messages now also supports SharePlay, so you can start a session directly within the app and catch up with your friends over a video.
Voice dictation apparently already gets a big thumbs up from a significant number of iPhone owners — and Apple has plans to make it even better. Now the onscreen keyboard will remain visible as you speak, so you can quickly swap input types.
It will now recognize punctuation and emoji, and all language processing is done on the device, so you don’t have to worry about your ramblings living on a server somewhere.
The iPhone’s neural engine will also be called into action for text detection in videos, meaning you can pause a clip, highlight any text, and paste it into another app. It makes for a neat demo, but we’re not sure how useful it will be to the majority of iOS users.
Visual Lookup is also getting an upgrade. Previously it used the camera to identify objects; It will now separate the subjects from their backgrounds and let you drag them into other apps.
Fuss free family sharing
Limiting what your kids can do on their iOS devices, and for how long, is getting a lot simpler in iOS 16. Assigning user profiles for each child and turning on age-appropriate restrictions can now be done across devices and from one place. , with fine-grained control over the types of e-books, movies, TV shows, and apps they are allowed to access.
If you set a screen time limit, but your kids only need ten more minutes (Honest), you’ll be able to extend the timer via the Messages app.
Finally, a family checklist can remind you to check what parental controls are active, and help you deactivate or increase limits as your kids get older.
Pictures for all the family
Sharing photos with family members is getting a lot easier in iOS 16. Instead of sharing individual photos or albums, you can now have an iCloud Shared Photo Library to which you and other iCloud accounts can contribute Snaps.
Once set up, you can manually select photos from your Camera Roll, or use Smart Suggestions that recognize faces to recommend pictures that other people might want to see.
All members of the shared photo library have the same permissions, so edits, favorites and deletes sync across devices.
Apple has also added a switch directly to the Camera app to share new photos directly to the shared library. You can set it to be on or off by default or to turn it on automatically when you are in the same area as your family members.
Finally, in a very welcome move, the Photos app now has an incredibly useful duplicate function that shows you all the duplicate photos on your phone at the press of a button. You can then merge duplicate photos together, saving precious storage space in an instant.
For example, anyone who has gone through the painful manual process of deleting WhatsApp duplicates will welcome this new trick with open arms, freeing up internal and iCloud storage without the need for additional apps or hours of manual sorting.
Home app improved
Apple Matter is one of several big-name tech brands behind the IoT standard, which is rapidly expanding support to all types of smart home kits. More devices mean more icons, video feeds, and settings to keep track of, so the Home app has been redesigned to hold the entire home on a single, scrollable screen.
Categories now sit at the top of the screen, providing one-tap access to security devices, heating/cooling, and lights. Camera feeds get their own full-width tiles with Preview, and automation is simplified.
A search tab helps you find compatible gadgets, and the entire back-end has been rewritten to make it more reliable. It’s coming to iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but the biggest visual change can be found on the iPhone.
iOS 16 also brings built-in improvements to the Home app to make it more reliable and supports the Matter standard. The new Home app is available on iPhones, iPad, and Mac.
Wallet gets smart
Maryland and Arizona residents will be pleased as punch to learn Apple Wallet now supports their state driving licenses. Apple says another 11 should be on the way soon and can be used in-app without sharing birth-specific information — whether you’re legally older than what you’re trying to buy.
Tap-to-pay is coming to the US, letting small businesses accept payments on their smartphones without having to purchase dedicated card-reading hardware.
Sharing digital keys is now easier with messaging and mail support with third-party integrations including WhatsApp. If you are sent a virtual key, you can add it to your own Apple Wallet. Support is still limited at this time, and is most likely to be found in high-end hotels, but carmakers are also slowly getting on board.
Apple Pay Later is the other part of the puzzle, allowing you to split a large payment into four equal ones, which are then paid back in six weeks with zero interest. The wallet reminds you when to pay, and gives you the option to pay off the balance in full at any time. No word on whether this is US-only right now, or if your bank will need to support it.
Map goes in the right direction
Apple is actually working on its 3D maps this year, covering Las Vegas and Chicago as well as other major cities. The virtual aerial view works in light and dark themes and can be used by developers to better point users to things like rental scooters, taxi pickup, and package drop-off points.
Navigation is proceeding with multi-stop routing, allowing you to plan a trip with multiple stops instead of planning for many short hops. It will show the price of public transportation when selected and will let you pay within the Maps app using Apple Pay if the network supports contactless payment and ticketing.
Batter Percentage Return
The release of iOS 16 sees the return of a feature that was previously done away with annoyance – the battery percentage in the status bar. Due to the space-eating notch being removed after the launch of the iPhone X, users will have to pull down Control Center to view the battery percentage.
However, in iOS 16, you can change the settings so that you see specific percentages at all times, whether you’re in an app or on the Home screen. A godsend for category anxiety sufferers.
Security check is for those who need it
It’s one of those “useful, but we hope you never need to use it” features. Safety Check is intended for victims of domestic abuse to quickly delete any information they’ve shared with partners, including their calendar appointments, app and website passwords, and location information.
CarPlay will handle your car
When it first arrived CarPlay was designed for the horizontal infotainment screen most carmakers were using – but now vertical layouts are more common, and digital dashboards have all but the physical instrument cluster. That’s several different display sizes – and Apple wants to stick to all.
As well as expanding to fill whatever infotainment screen your car has, CarPlay will eventually be able to replace the instrument cluster, showing important information like speed, engine revs, fuel reserves, and oil temperature (if you’re on a gas-powered car driving) or range estimation (if you’re in an EV) as well as navigation. The infotainment screen will be able to control things like climate control, without having to relegate to the car’s built-in UI.
Apple featured a handful of different layouts, mixing minimalist and modern with traditional, and promised you’ll be able to customize the look and feel of each. Widgets are also showing up in a similar way to complications on the Apple Watch.
The update was shown as a ‘preview’ of what’s to come rather than a demo, and it would be up to the carmaker to add support for it, hence filling the dashboard of its hatchback with Porsche 911-style gauges until at least the next one. Don’t expect a year – and only then if you are planning a trip to a new car dealership.
…And the rest
There are a lot of minor updates coming as part of the iOS update which is also worth a mention. Like the fitness app, that will come as standard, whether you have an Apple Watch or not. First, you have to pair Apple’s wearable and smartphone together before the app can show up.
You’ll be able to personalize spatial audio using your iPhone’s TrueDepth camera to scan your room, tuning your AirPods Pro to match its layout, Personalized Spatial Audio on the new AirPods Pro 2 One of the main features of You can also ask Siri to hang up a hands-free voice call for you, insert emojis when dictating messages, and send without the need for verbal confirmation.
FaceID will now work in landscape mode. The onscreen keyboard now gets haptic feedback (if you want it). Permissions are being tightened, so apps have to ask before they can access your clipboard. So yeah, there’s a lot to look forward to here.